Craig Lingard: Batley Bulldogs ‘deflated and hurt’ after play-off chase taken out of their own hands
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The Bulldogs knew that a win at the LNER Community Stadium would mean that a top six finish would be in their own hands at home to Newcastle this Saturday.
But Liam Harris’ drop goal 90 seconds from the final hooter sealed a dramatic 15-14 victory for York, meaning Lingard’s men need other results elsewhere to go their way on the final weekend of a captivating season.
Lingard said: “We lost a little bit of composure just after halfway through the first half. We dominated the opening 20 minutes really well. We completed our sets well, we defended well, we were really tough and we restricted York to not much yardage and made them kick from deep.
“I thought we were threatening every time we had the ball in good areas and executed a couple of decent tries. But then a few errors crept in, we dropped a few kicks and dropped a simple pass from a play-the-ball four minutes before half-time.
“We went from being 10-4 up to being 14-10 down in three minutes. That was a big momentum swing.”
He added: “We had a chat at half time and we were a little bit worried that the boys were quiet but they said they were focused and we won 4-1 in the second half. They did everything but win the game and sometimes you are on the wrong side of those close games.”
If the Panthers are defeated and York win, the Bulldogs will need to overturn a minus 14 points difference.
Lingard said: “It does hurt but we have been in control of our own destiny up until Monday night. If we’d have won both of our remaining games it wouldn’t have made any difference what the other teams did. It was within our hands. We didn’t win the game so it has been taken out of our hands.
“You’re always disappointed in competitive sport when you don’t achieve the goals that you set yourself and we set the goal of getting into the play-offs this year, however realistic or not that goal should be, as a club over the last two or three years we have maybe created some unrealistic expectations about what we should and shouldn’t be achieving. Maybe people think we should be automatically considered as a top six team. But we always come back to budgets and what other teams are spending compared to us. We’re right down at the bottom of the table of what teams are spending.
“As a group we are deflated and are definitely hurting. It's disappointing that in my last year we wanted to have a real dig at those play-offs again and, unfortunately, that looks like it is not going to happen now.”